Last week we blogged how over half the rigs in the North Sea failed safety checks.

As if to highlight the problem, a major evacuation operation was launched yesterday after a fire broke out on a remote North Sea oil platform. Ninety of the 159 people on board the Thistle Alpha platform, 120 miles north-west of Shetland, were airlifted to safety.

Oil workers were later returned to the rig after the fire was extinguished.  Seven helicopters, including two from Norway, and a Nimrod from RAF Kinloss were scrambled to rescue the workers from the Thistle Alpha rig after a mayday call was sent out from the platform. Workers were airlifted to three neighbouring oil platforms five or six miles away.